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Record-seeking Inter come up against survival hopefuls Cagliari

Record-seeking Inter come up against survival hopefuls Cagliari

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Simone Inzaghi's side have 82 points, 14 ahead of AC Milan with seven games left

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(Reuters) - Inter Milan, with the league title all but wrapped up, hope to maintain their push to break the Serie A points record but host a resurgent relegation-battling Cagliari on Sunday.

Simone Inzaghi's side have 82 points, 14 ahead of AC Milan with seven games left, and are on course to beat their own points best of 97. However, breaking the overall points record of 102 held by Juventus leaves no margin for error.

Juve set the mark when they won the 2013-14 title and Inter must win all of their remaining matches to reach 103.

Inter face several sides fighting for survival, including Sassuolo, Frosinone and Hellas Verona. First up is Cagliari, whose recent form has pulled them out of the relegation zone.

Four straight defeats dropped Cagliari to 19th in February but since then Claudio Ranieri's side have lost once in seven. They come to San Siro after a 2-1 home win over Atalanta.

Despite Cagliari's rise to 13th in the standings, they are still only four points above Frosinone in 18th, and not out of danger, but 72-year-old Ranieri, in possibly his last managerial role, would dearly love to keep the island side afloat.

Ranieri began his professional coaching career at Cagliari in 1988, taking them from Serie C to Serie A in two seasons, and returned to the club midway through last term to lead them back to the top flight.

If Cagliari manage to come away with even a draw from their trip to Milan it would be a massive boost to their survival hopes but would crush Inter's points record bid.

The last time Cagliari earned a point at Inter was in 2020, with Lautaro Martinez giving the home side the lead that day before getting sent off in the 90th minute, and the Argentine striker misses this weekend's game through suspension.

His absence is good news for Ranieri. Serie A's top scorer with 23 goals, Martinez has netted nine times in his nine games against Cagliari.

Milan will be keen to take maximum points at second-bottom Sassuolo on Sunday, hoping to avoid watching Inter clinch the Scudetto against them the following week.

The April 22 derby is marked on Inter's calendar as the perfect day to seal the title at San Siro so Milan will want to take maximum advantage of any slip-up by their city rivals.

Juventus, six points adrift of Milan in third, and four ahead of Bologna, play at Torino in the Turin derby on Saturday.

Bologna, ready to close the gap if Juve drop points, host mid-table Monza on Saturday, while defending champions Napoli, in seventh, will attempt to keep their slim Champions League qualifying hopes alive when they host Frosinone on Sunday.